New Girls Soccer Coaches Bring Fresh Perspective to Team

Zoe Moser and Emily Nagy

As the regular season ends and playoffs begin, girls varsity soccer is completing their first season under new coaches Isabel Chang and Ligia Valladares who have focused on building communication and teamwork.

The new coaches bring lots of personal experience to the team. Chang grew up in Virginia and made the commute down to Maryland to play club for Bethesda. She played all four years of high school at the varsity level and continued her playing collegiately at James Madison University (JMU).

“It’s been a big learning experience; first year coaching […] but it’s been super fun because I got to continue my soccer passion and career coaching,” Chang said.

While Valladares did not play soccer in college, she did play all throughout high school. Her student athlete career added to her knowledge of the sport.

“I think our experience so far has been very adaptive because I know the girls were used to a previous coach and it’s difficult stepping into a domain that someone else has ruled,” Valladares said, “but I think from our experience so far we definitely connected with the girls and we got them to connect on the field…encouraged them, [and] motivated them to do their best.”

The largest change with the new coaches has been a new emphasis on communication and teamwork which were less prominent in past seasons.

“One big thing I think we bring is relationship building. I feel like we’re able to relate to the girls and… we’ve built this like family with them as well, and that’s huge building those relationships,” Chang said

In prior years, the team focused primarily on technique and skill. This season, the coaches decided to focus on communication in hopes of creating a stronger bond between the players.

“We are much more team oriented,” sophomore center back Monica Blassou said. “Last year we worked on technique and speed on and off the ball a lot, and this year we haven’t as much but at the same time we have improved on communication so much this year.”

Chang and Valladares both teach P.E./Health at Julius West Middle School (JW). In fact they share many similarities, such as being hired at JW the same day and having the same birthday, which were factors in them becoming close friends, they said. Chang and Valladares’ similarities have helped bring the team closer together.

“They [the coaches] have definitely increased the dynamic of the players in a good way that allows us to perform well as a team,” sophomore Mikki Mesfin said.

The Rams start their playoff season Thursday, October 26 2017 at 6:30 vs. Watkins Mill.